Air Force urged to remove officer over A-10 ‘treason’ comments

A coalition of a dozen nonprofit groups is asking Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to take action against a service major general who allegedly said airmen who talk to Congress about the retirement of the A-10 have committed “treason.”
 
The comments by Maj. Gen James Post “seriously call into question his judgment and ability to continue in his role as vice commander of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command,” the groups, led by the Project on Government Oversight, said Thursday in a letter to James.
 
“[Post] has not denied making these comments, and while we understand that an investigation is ongoing, we think the known facts merit his immediate removal,” they added. “At the very least, he should be suspended while the investigation is ongoing and removed if the allegations are proven to be true."
 
Post reportedly told officers during a recent meeting at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada that they were not to speak with lawmakers about the service's attempt to retire the beloved attack jet, called the "Warthog” by troops.
 
“If anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it ... anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason,” The Arizona Daily Independent, a conservative news website, quoted Post as saying.
 
James recently said she had "no regrets" about proposing to retire the A-10 fleet last year in order to save billions.
 
The fiscal 2016 budget request unveiled by the service on Monday again proposes mothballing the A-10.
 
Last week, Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee that an investigation, overseen by the Defense Department’s inspector general, is being conducted into the matter.
 
The nonprofits argue Post’s supposed comments “undermine service members’ constitutional rights to petition their government, and appear to violate statutory protections for military whistleblowers.”
 
In addition, they “try to interfere with Congress’s ability to learn how these systems are currently performing in combat to address current threats, precisely the kind of information they need to know to conduct their constitutional duties and to oversee the Air Force’s operations and programs.”
 
The groups also expressed concerns about rumors that the Air Force is retaliating against airmen that who have already spoken to lawmakers.
 
“If true, this seems to indicate that there is a broader problem of a toxic culture against whistleblowers,” they note, citing past instances where the Air Force has committed reprisals.
 
“Given these previous concerns about the Air Force’s treatment of whistleblowers, we believe it is particularly incumbent upon you to send a strong signal that retaliatory behavior will not be tolerated,” they told James.